Former Miss Turkey convicted of ‘insulting’ Erdogan on social media

by WorldTribune Staff, May 31, 2016

A fashion model and former Miss Turkey received a suspended sentence of over one year for “publicly insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an Instagram post.

An Istanbul court sentenced Merve Buyuksarac, 27, to one year and two months in prison for a satirical poem she posted on her Instagram account, the Dogan news agency reported. The court suspended the sentence without further comment.

Merve Buyuksarac
Merve Buyuksarac

The “Master’s Poem” – which was posted by the model while Erdogan was serving as prime minister – criticizes the Turkish leader with verses adapted from the country’s national anthem. Erdogan is often referred to in Turkey as “Buyuk Usta” (the Big Master).

Hatice Ozay, Erdogan’s lawyer, told the court that the model’s posts on social media cannot be considered criticism but rather was an “attack against my client’s personal rights.”

Buyuksarac won the Miss Turkey competition in 2006 and has since worked as a model as well as appearing on reality TV shows.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said in March that almost 2,000 people in Turkey have been prosecuted for insulting Erdogan since he became president.

Erdogan was himself sent to jail in 1999 for reciting, while mayor of Istanbul, a nationalist and Islamist-tinged poem that the authorities at the time deemed was guilty of “inciting religious hatred.”